Samsung VC arm forays into India, places bets across Indus OS, three others

By Joseph Rai

  • 10 Jul 2019

South Korean conglomerate Samsung's venture capital arm has started its India journey with four investments including a bet on Mumbai-based OSLabs Technology India Pvt. Ltd, which runs smartphone operating system Indus OS, according to media reports.

Samsung Venture Investment Corporation has picked up 20% stake in Indus OS for $5.75 million (Rs 39.4 crore), The Economic Times reported, citing people it did not name. The investment valued the company at around $29 million. 

Indus OS's app store App Bazaar will be integrated into Samsung's own app store and will be available on all the South Korean company's smartphones as part of the transaction. The venture firm will also take a board seat in the company.

Indus OS chief executive Rakesh Deshmukh told the business daily that the investment will help the company reach its goal of empowering 100 million Indian smartphone users with content and commerce platform in a language of their choice. App Bazaar has more than 100,000 regional apps in 12 vernacular languages as well as in English.

An email to Indus OS and Samsung Venture Investment seeking further details did not elicit a response.

Other media reports said that Samsung Venture Investment has also invested in three other Indian startups -- speech technology startup, IoT solutions provider Silvan Innovation Labs and an early-stage computer vision startup, whose name was not disclosed. It invested a total of $8.5 million in the four Indian companies.

Indus OS

Indus OS, formerly called Firstouch, was founded in 2013 by IIT-Bombay alumni Rakesh Deshmukh, Akash Dongre and Sudhir B Deshmukh.

The company had first raised funds from a group of angel investors including Snapdeal co-founders Kunal Bahl and Rohit Bansal, Quikr founder Pranay Chulet, Naveen Tiwari and Amit Gupta from Inmobi in September 2015.

In early 2016, the company raised $5 million (around Rs 34 crore) in a fresh funding round led by impact investor Omidyar Network. The following year, it raised an undisclosed amount in Series A2 funding from early-stage investor VenturEast and JSW Ventures, the venture capital arm of JSW Group.

Later in 2017, the company raised $4 million (around Rs 26 crore) in a pre-Series B funding round.

Samsung Venture Investment focuses on investments in semiconductors, telecom, software, internet, bio-engineering and medical industries, according to its website. It invests in startups to established companies that are about to be listed on stock exchanges.

The India team is headed by Snehal Deshpande. He had initially joined Samsung R&D in 2005.

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